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Volkswagen kick-starts self-driving future with Silicon Valley start-up

Volkswagen joins the self-driving car race in partnership with a newly established Silicon Valley start-up.

By April Slattery

Volkswagen is working in partnership with a Silicon Valley start-up to develop a fleet of self-driving vehicles.

The latest start-up from Silicon Valley, Aurora, was founded by former Google self-driving car project head Chris Urmson with the aim of bringing new fleets of self-driving taxis, cars and even trucks to the roads.

Volkswagen said in a statement that by partnering with Aurora it aims to focus on its customers by creating new solutions that bring the best user experience, focusing on safety, convenience and usability.

To date, Volkswagen and Aurora have been working together for six months with Mobility as a Service (MaaS) developments currently in stage one. Over the six months the two companies’ specialists have been working together to integrate Aurora’s self-driving system including features such as sensors, hardware and software such as Machine Learning and AI technology into Volkswagen’s self-driving platform.

Johann Jungwirth , Chief Digital Officer at Volkswagen, said: “Working with Aurora, leading self-driving system company, will give us a giant leap forward in our mission to become the world’s leading provider of sustainable mobility, with self-driving vehicles.

Volkswagen kick-starts self-driving future with Silicon Valley startup

The partnership aims to use Machine Learning, AI to enhance the self-driving platform.

“Our aim is to create new Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS) solutions which customers will be really passionate about because they have been tailored to the human with highest safety standards, best-in-class user experience and digital intelligence. For me this is the reinvention of mobility and the automobile.”

In addition to joining forces with Volkswagen the start-up has also managed to bag itself the partnership of Hyundai, aiming to work with the two to build each company a fleet of robotic services across a MaaS platform.

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Hyundai also has a similar vision to Volkswagen as it promises to produce a fleet of self-driving cars by 2021 that can operate completely alone without any human input at all.

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By partnering with both carmaker companies Aurora aims to transform the existing vehicles that they have and produce with self-driving cars instead of completely replacing them.

Chris Urmson, CEO of Aurora said: “Our priority at Aurora is to make self-driving cars a reality quickly, broadly and safely, and we know we will get there faster by partnering with innovative automakers like the Volkswagen Group. This partnership establishes a deep collaboration using Aurora’s self-driving technology, and together we will bring self-driving vehicles to market at scale.”

Volkswagen plans to spend more than €34bn on self-driving and electric vehicles over the next five years, but did not disclose any financial details of the deal with Aurora.

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